Monday, August 18, 2008

Counting Sheep

Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
For if I die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my soul will take.

Why did I pray that prayer as a little child? Why did I ever learn that at all? Seriously, little children should not learn that it’s a possibility they might die in their sleep. Little children have nightmares and shouldn’t be frightened before the lights go out.

I don’t have nightmares. Well, not often anyway. If I do, I don’t dream about monsters or ghosts or natural disasters. I dream about someone I love dying or about being chased by someone who wants to harm me. Nightmares are the least of my worries. And for that matter, dying before I wake is not high on the list either. Oh but I do have worries that keep me up late and give me restless nights.

It is the absolute worst feeling in the world to be so exhausted and yet unable to sleep. It’s torture. In fact, it really is a form of torture, isn’t it? Lately, I’ve had such trouble sleeping. It started about two weeks ago. I got some bad news about my sweet, loving grandfather and since then, I just haven’t been able to sleep. Worse yet, that first night, I wasn’t sleeping alone.

I have such a hard time sleeping with someone. (Settle down, kiddies, I’m talking actual sleep.) The first few nights I sleep next to someone new, I don’t get a wink of sleep. I toss and turn all night. I wake up at least half a dozen times, and it’s really miserable. But everything’s a process, isn’t it? And most of the time, I do eventually get to a point where I can sleep soundly and peacefully next to someone. It just takes a long time.

Actually, I find that to be a good gauge that tells me when I’m comfortable with someone and when I really care for them. Before I can sleep through the night with someone, I can do naked things, maybe tell a few secrets and even feel comfortable enough to have an orgasm, which always takes awhile because it takes time to feel close.

At least if I’m alone, I can get up, have a glass of wine or warm milk (yes, she’s a baby), read the Bible, write something. Writing usually helps, even if it’s just writing a to-do list, it gets the thoughts out of my head. I’ve tried everything – counting backwards from 100, the alphabet, even tried counting sheep. My mom says to pray because the devil will put you to sleep since he doesn’t want you praying. Praying doesn’t help me sleep – it just gives me more to think about.

Next to someone, you just have to lay there and stare up at the ceiling. But if I’ve been dating someone for awhile and feel comfortable, I’ll get up and sleep on the couch. The bed feels too crowded with the both of us and all the thoughts in my head. I once dated someone who would always get up in the middle of the night and come get me to bring me back to bed. I liked that. That his unconscious mind would notice my absence.

It is always hard sleeping with someone, though. I’ve dated a lot of cuddlers, which is nice, but I usually can’t fall asleep touching someone. My last boyfriend, I couldn’t touch him while we were sleeping. I don’t know what it was. I just wanted my own space. Sometimes he would roll over on me, and that was awful. Oh man, and he snored like a beast. It got to the point where I couldn’t sleep in the same bed with him at all, and I thought that was a bad sign. I never want to be one of those couples that sleep in separate rooms. When I can sleep while touching, though, it’s nice. And waking up still in their arms is rare and lovely.

The last guy I slept next to, we cuddled and it worked. One night, I woke up and needed to change positions. He was out like a light, and I tried to move slowly and gently so I didn’t wake him. His arm followed me as I slowly moved and kept holding onto me. He was sleeping deeply, but I don’t know, I like to think that something inside him wanted to keep holding me. When I finally rolled over, he followed and wrapped his arms around me, without ever waking. All that sounds sweet, but he did knock me in the head with that same arm that very same night. So sleep may just be sleep, and it might not be personal at all.

Definitely isn’t in all cases, but after sleeping next to someone for a long while, that’s very personal. The one time I was in love, he always held onto me all night, and both our bodies moved with each other, we always had to be touching. It was so peaceful and perfect. After we broke up, I used to imagine sleeping with him when I couldn’t fall asleep, and it would calm me down.

As hard as it can be for me to sleep with someone, I have to confess it might be nice not to sleep alone the next couple of months. But who am I kidding? It’d be nice to be held, sure yes, but I know I have a lot of sleepless nights ahead of me, and I’d rather sleep alone in my bed than on the couch. And then, what if the next one snores? Or whacks me upside the head?

Now that I’ve gotten something written down, I think I’ll grab that glass of wine and pray sleep comes soon. 100, 99, 98…

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